Getting a tattoo is painful. Yes, that’s the truth!

But the pain level may vary from person to person, location and type of tattoo, pain tolerance, artist’s skill, and the precautions you’ve taken.

Most people report that getting a tattoo feels like constant cat scratching or someone continually scratching a hot needle across the skin — that’s what exactly happens as a needle is inserted into your skin repeatedly during the procedure.

Scarry?

Don’t worry. Let’s read the guide — how to make a tattoo hurt less to know the tips and strategies you can follow before, during, and after the procedure to minimize tattoo pain and get your favorite art with ease.

15 Tips on How to Make a Tattoo Hurt Less

How to Make a Tattoo Hurt Less: 15 Effective Tips

Here’re the fifteen practical tips to reduce tattoo pain before, during, and after the session.

BEFORE the Session

Follow the following things before your tattoo session to hurt less during the procedure.

1. Get Enough Sleep

One of the most ignored yet important things to prevent or reduce pain is sleeping enough.

In a 2014 paper, researchers found a significant interrelation between sleep and pain and elaborate that enough quality sleep may help a person prevent or treat chronic pain. (1)

Another study demonstrated that lack of sleep increases pain responsivity within the brain’s cortex yet blunts activity in other regions. Also, it may slow down the healing process and disturb the mood. (2)

You should ensure that you have taken about 8 hours of good night’s sleep before the session.

2. Stay in Sober

If you drink alcohol before your tattoo session, most artists will refuse you because a tattoo is a lifelong commitment, and drunken decisions are not wisest.

Also, alcohol thins our blood, which increases the risk of bleeding and pain sensitivity — may create unwanted situations that we definitively want to avoid. (3) 

Ensure you aren’t drinking alcohol (or staying sober) for at least 24 hours before getting a tattoo.

3. Have Breakfast

The next thing you should do before your tattoo session is to eat a complete breakfast combined with protein, carbs, fats, and green veggies.

Getting a tattoo on an empty stomach isn’t a good idea, which could further increase your pain and many people are most likely to pass out.

Eating breakfast becomes more crucial, especially when you’re getting a large art and need to spend a long time getting the tattoo process done.

4. Drink More Water

Water helps keep our body hydrated, and hydrated skin is easier to work on and more likely to reduce pain during the needling process. (4)

Remember that you shouldn’t overdrink it before getting tattooed because it may force you to flash out more frequently and disrupt your tattoo artist to complete the art.

Make sure you’re well-hydrated before and during the procedure for a comfortable session.

5. Choose Your Artist Wisely

As I mentioned earlier, how much pain you’ll get somewhat depends on your tattoo artist. Choosing the best tattooist is crucial who may draw your desired art more attractively in less time and pain.

Always choose a licensed tattoo artist who is skilled and experienced enough in this field. 

6. Fix a Morning Session

Getting a tattoo in the morning is always recommended, and there’s a good reason for that.

After a good night’s sleep, our adrenalin level goes to peak, a pain-blocking hormone that helps increase our pain tolerance level.

Also, when we sleep, it realizes dopamine, which is a pain relief and pleasure hormone, that helps us to endure pain during the day.

Make sure to schedule your appointment as early in the morning as possible so your body can efficiently handle the tattoo pain.

7. Wear Loose Clothes

Wear loose clothes for the session, especially if your tattooed area is going to be covered. Because when you come back, your clothes will rub or get in touch with your tattoo loosely or tightly, which may create more or less pain.

However, you may want to leave the new ink uncovered if it is one of the exposed body parts like the forearms or face.

But if you have tattooed in an area where your clothes will interact with your fresh tattoo, make sure to wear loose clothes that are made of linen, viscose, or cotton.

8. Pick a Less Sensitive Spot

Although people have different pain tolerance levels, the location of your tattoo is one of the significant factors that influence how much pain you’ll get.

If you’re tattooing for the first time, starting with less painful body parts would be better. Here’re a few examples of the less painful tattoo spots:

  • Outer thighs
  • Forearm
  • Outer bicep
  • Outer shoulders
  • Calves

On the other hand, the most painful tattoo spots are generally closer to the boney or sensitive areas like knees, feet, hands, armpit, head, neck, and ribcage.

9. Apply a Numbing Cream

Although tattoo pain is somewhat unavoidable, there’re a few special ways you can minimize it, and using a numbing cream is one of them.

A numbing cream basically numbs the skin and helps you not feel too much pain while your artist is doing the art.

However, not all tattoo artists like or recommend using numbing cream, which may slow the tattooing process. So, before applying anything on your skin, get the approval of your artist.

DURING the Session

Here’re the tips you can follow during the session to make the needling less painful.

10. Relax

Okay, now your artist starts the work. All you need to do is lie on the tattoo table, bring your legs up and relax like you’re in a luxurious spa.

Maintain a comfortable breathing pattern to make yourself more relaxed.

This helps you to hurt less while getting a tattoo because relaxed muscles and skin are easier to work on than tensed and stiff skin.

11. Diverse Your Mind

Another smart way to feel less pain during tattooing is by keeping your mind busy with other activities.

You could listen to music, talk to a friend, read a book, play games on mobile, or do anything to keep your mind distracted from the needles and the pain.

12. Ask for Breaks

During a lengthy procedure, if the pain is too intense or worsens, ask your artist for breaks — it’s completely normal.

If you’re getting a bigger art, you can take a few minutes’ breaks in regular intervals; any professional artist will understand and spare you that time.

However, plan for multiple sessions with your artist if you’re getting a bigger and more complex tattoo.

AFTER the Session

Okay, got your favorite tattoo? Now, it’s time to properly take care of your fresh ink to get less pain and heal faster. 

13. Leave It to Breathe

After finishing the art, your artist will apply an ointment and bandage it and may give the tattoo aftercare instructions.

After returning home about 3-4 hours later, slowly remove the bandage and clean your tattoo with lukewarm water and unscented soap. Then gently pat it dry with a clean paper towel and leave it open to breathe.

On the first day or two, leaving your new ink open in the air (or in touch with oxygen) is crucial for initial healing and getting less pain afterward.

14. Clean Your Tattoo Regularly

For proper healing and reduce post-session pain, you must clean your tattoo at least twice daily for a few weeks until it heals.

Because after tattooing, the excess ink and plasma will come out from your new tattoo, and cleaning them is essential for safe healing.

Also, regular cleaning helps you wash off the germs and bacteria from the tattoo, reducing the chances of infection and pain.

15. Use a Mild Moisturizer

After getting inked, using the correct tattoo aftercare moisturizer is important, which could increase or decrease your tattoo pain and healing process.

Always look for products that are free from fragrances and irritating chemicals.

Final Word

You need to accept the reality that getting a tattoo will hurt, but the pain level may vary on your tattoo type, location, and your pain tolerance.

This means there is no magic trick to vanish the tattoo pain completely. But by following the tips or strategies mentioned above, you can somewhat lower the pain level.

Also, you can read what tattoo pain feels like, so you can better prepare yourself for the pain.

So… There we have it: how to make tattoos hurt less.

If you have any questions regarding tattoo pain or tattoo in general, sound off in the comment section below. I’d be glad to help you out.

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